Level 7:1 – Construct Leg Support

6 May

Hello Co-Op Campaign fans! Thank you so much for checking in with us. C2E2 was an amazing success and our costumes went over so amazingly well! We were received so warmly and enthusiastically, all of the months of work were worth it. You may have noticed a change in the layout of the site. Since we’ve surpassed the original goal of C2E2 it made more sense to organize our posts by cosplay piece rather than chronologically. Let us know what you think in the comments section!

I’m going to bring you up to speed on some hardcore footwear: Eleanor Lamb’s boots.

Eleanor Lamb screen shot

Big sisters have brittle bones. This is due to the amount of ADAM they ingested while acting as little sisters roaming the tunnels and corridors of Rapture. Also as a result of the ADAM, their bones heal unnaturally fast so if they break a leg and aren’t able to set it immediately, the leg will heal crooked and have to be broken again so that it could be properly set. Ouch. Because of all of this, Big Sisters have metal bars that run along the sides of their boots and are secured at the knees. Since Eleanor’s getup is compiled of bits and pieces of big sister armor, she’ll have to deal with the braces.

When we talk about Eleanor Lamb’s boots, we’re also talking about boot covers and knee pads. But before there can be shin guards and knee pads, there must be boots. Daniel and I spent a very long time looking for the perfect boots. We looked through many websites and stopped into many stores without finding exactly what we needed. We came very close to buying some steam punk inspired boots for around $60 but something told me to wait. And I was certainly glad I did.

Base for Eleanor Lamb Boots Perfection! We found these at a thrift store for $8. With these shoes as the base, we could start shaping Eleanor Lamb’s boots. The first thing we had to do was stretch them out. While the left shoe fit like a dream, the right shoe was like torture to get into. So I took some old socks and soaked them in water until they were completely saturated. Once they were saturated I rolled them together and shoved them into the shoes. The water makes the socks expand and so it will stretch the shoe while wet.

Next, we stripped all the tan from the cloth part of the boots. It looks like it had been painted on once before since it started flaking off the first time I tried to pull them on. So rather than try to repaint them that tan color again, we decided to strip it all off. All it took was some vigorous finger scrapping and it flaked right off. I”m still finding bits of flaked off shoe in the living room.

Before I could start planning the metal parts of the boots, I needed to see how the bars would lay. Just as we did with Subject Delta’s drill, we used plastic hangar strip to craft the bars and then we used a set of washers, one large and one small, to highlight the spot where the bars connected to the shoes. Since the soles are so thick, we were able to drill right into them and then secure the washers and bars.

Boot with Washer Heel

Once I knew where the bars would hit the shoes, I could start working on the shoe covers. I knew that I wanted to work with layers of craft foam and that I would need to incorporate all the buckles in the world. So I started by cutting all the layers that I wanted out of butcher paper. I was then able to pin them to the boots so I could see how they would lay. Note the rolled up towels I used to fill out the shoes.

Boot with Cover PatternThen, once I had the dimensions I wanted, I pinned each piece of butcher paper to craft foam and cut them out. I knew that I wanted the base piece to look like leather, but I didn’t want to use the same leather we’d been using for the straps. So I poked around and found this amazing tutorial for using an iron and shoe polish to make brown craft foam look like leather. You can view the tutorial here.

Here’s how we did it. We used brown 5 mm craft foam, Kiwi brown shoe polish and an iron.

Set your iron to the highest setting.

1. Set your iron to the highest setting.

After running the iron over the foam, note the color difference.

2. After running the iron over the foam, note the color difference.

After pressing the foam, here's what it will look like from the side.

3. After pressing the foam, here’s what it will look like from the side.

The foam on the left has the shoe polish applied to it. Note the difference from the normal color of the foam on the right.

4. The foam on the left has the shoe polish applied to it. Note the difference from the normal color of the foam on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BC Unpainted

 

 

 

 

Next, I arranged the other pattern pieces I’d cut out of 2 mm craft foam on the back of the 5 mm craft foam. I slapped on the thin cross-bar and the two circular “cap nuts’ so create some more visual interest. Then I sealed it with Elmer’s glue, added a couple of layers of Shellac and then Daniel hit it with some silver spray paint.  We used Rust-Oleum Dark Steel which looked great! Once it had thoroughly dried, I hot glued it to my pressed foam base.

Before I started the process of constructing the boot covers, I had cut and started stitching the straps I would need to wrap around the boots. Now that I had everything ready to construct, I could cut the straps and finish stitching them. I also added backing to the tips of the straps so that they wouldn’t curl up after being buckled. A tip for you: get a thimble if you don’t have strong nails. If I hadn’t had a strong, thick thumb nail, I would have destroyed my fingers trying to push the needle through this material.

Boot Strap Backing

Through a lot of trial and error and tape, I figured out where to position my straps and buckles. I was just a few hot-glue sticks away from finishing my boot covers!

Back Boot Covers FoamAll that was left to do was the knee pad for the metal bars to attach to. I cut them out of leather. At first, thought that I could cut it out of a simple rectangle but the shape didn’t work with my knee. There was just too much gaping. So I went back and tapered it around the knee cap.

Once I was pleased with the shape, I added a small square of 5 mm craft foam to the sides so that I could attach the bars with a screw and washer to connect them to the shoes. I covered the foam in more leather which I stitched into place. Then I cut out a little hole so that I could drill the screw in place without twisting the leather. I used strips of velcro along the ends to close them.

Knee Pad Cut with Foam

 

Here’s what I ended up with!

Eleanor Lamb Front of Boots Eleanor Lamb Back of Boots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll notice the drooping in the knee pads. This is because the wide shape of them wouldn’t follow the contours of my knee. I tried trimming even more from the leather to try to mimic the round shape of the knee and then the skinny back of the knee but it just wouldn’t lay flat.

Finally, I decided that I needed to try working with elastic. This was particularly scary since I haven’t worked with elastic since making pajama pants in my first costuming class and I don’t remember those turning out well at all. But I bit the bullet and started working.

Knee Pad Working on Elastic

I wound up anchoring two pieces of elastic to the inside of the knee pad. Then I attached Velcro to the end of the elastic. Next, I attached the other part of the Velcro on the inside of the knee pad. This would allow me to raise the bars on the shoes and close the knee pad around my knee. So. Much. Hand-stitching.

Knee Pad Elestic BackHere’s what it looked like on. For the last step, I trimmed the flaps of fabric a bit and then used Velcro to cover the strips of elastic with a flap of leather. I felt like such a craftsman when I finished working on these. If you’re questioning whether or not you should try to sew something, just remember how I did this through trial and error. You can do it!!

This gets us caught up to the painting of the boots and then the weathering step which I’ll leave for next time. Thanks for checking in and I hope you found this helpful! — TCG

 

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